Note From Uncle Dale: The “O’Hara Scale” for Measuring Epic Advocacy and Argument 

Hello! Uncle Dale back again. Now, I realized it’s been a while since I wrote a Note from Uncle Dale, but a conversation I had yesterday inspired me. It’s been long enough.  Grin. 

I will admit, I have been known to argue every now and again (it’s almost always “now” and frequently “again”). I am an advocate at heart. The lovely and talented Aunt SuperTam will tell you that I long ago blurred the line between arguing professionally and recreationally.  She is probably right (and as Aunt SuperTam says, when I say probably I mean definitely).

So a group of my students happened upon me in an empty hallway and caught the very end of an overly polite discussion between myself and opposing counsel in a case I am working on. 

The only thing the students heard was “of course that’s a threat to sue your client,  if that was not clear I must have said it incorrectly.”  I pointed the students back in the direction from which they came with a look that said “can you find another route, kinda busy here?” They walked away and I finished my conversation.  

Before class I ran into a couple of them and one said “I have finally heard a legendary “Mean Dale Argument” for myself.  

I replied, “Oh, that was nothing. When it comes to argument I have a very well established tool for measuring what is legendary.  It’s called ‘The O’Hara Scale.'”

What is the O’Hara Scale you ask? 

It’s kinda like The Scoville Scale (measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers) but it sets the parameters for what is an argument and what is a legendary argument.

Here’s is how I came up with it. 

Back in the 1990s Stephen King was overseeing the filming of a mini-series version of his novel “The Stand” near where I live.  If you are not familiar with The Stand there is a character who is Deaf, a main character mind you, named Nick Andros.  This was at the beginning of the movement to have Deaf characters played by Deaf actors (Anthony Natale would have been perfect… well maybe he was a little young at the time. But I digress).

Locally there lived a mother of Deaf children named Bronwyn O’Hara.  

I remember quite clearly how vocal she was on the issue. It was a gateway for her own children to see that people who are Deaf can do anything and, well, hearing playing Deaf is just wrong.  It’s the same discussion we are still having about white actors playing people of color or whitewashing roles in movies; ‘playing Deaf’ is just wrong. 

When they announced that Nick Andros would be played by Rob Lowe it caused a great amount of upset here. None more openly than Bronwyn O’Hara.  

Now here is where we get to rumor and conjecture. There is a possibly apocryphal story that Bronwyn, after much… we will call it dialogue or persuasion, got an audience with Stephen King at a group of trailers set up to support the production near our local zoo. Legend has it that it got heated.  Very very heated.  

Like I said, that was the story at the time. But I tend to believe it (if it’s not true Bronwyn I don’t want to know-I like the legend), the reason I believe it is that while Rob Lowe still played the role of Nick Andros, Bronwyn appears to have gotten to Mr. King. She stuck in his mind.  How do I know? 

While Mr. King was overseeing the production of The Stand he was writing a novel titled “Rose Madder.”

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you page 418 of the Stephen King novel Rose Madder!

Yes, Bronwyn’s rhetoric was so skilled that he called her “wonderful,” but so upsetting that he also KILLED HER OFF with a brain aneurysm! Seriously, you have to love the symbolism!!!

I will have achieved legendary argument status when and only when my opponent’s sole recourse and response is to write a novel wherein he or she says nice things about me… and then kills me off!  

That is the top of the O’Hara Scale.  

Life goals.  

Life goals.

Rule 295

The core of interpreting is love. Love is why we all started this journey, love is why we stay on this path, love is what we will remember as our lives end.

Rule 284

Interpret for four and a half hours alone?  If I’m alone, I don’t even want to do something that feels good for over two hours.

Note from Uncle Dale: A Harsh Examination of the Interpreter  

So, you ask, Uncle Dale who are you… I mean in relation to the Deaf Community.

Good question.  I can only answer for me and certainly not for the Deaf Community.

As I see me, I am a facilitator of communication. I can be an ally, when it is appropriate (sometimes it’s not-sometimes what I see as ally behavior is actually Audism. All of my passion and experience and fluency does not save me from the things my hearing privilege hides from me).

Sometimes… sometimes I am a necessary evil (mental health treatment should not be interpreted–it should only happen directly in the language of the person needing therapy-oh and education. But this is not the world in which we live).

I am not the savior of the Deaf Community. I’m the hired help.

I always remind myself that the Deaf Community was resisting Audism before I got here and will still be fighting long after I’m gone.

I am not needed. What is needed is the work I do.  The work I do is needed and always appreciated, but sometimes the appreciation is… grudging; and that is fine. The Deaf Community does not need to love me AND THAT IS FINE.  I don’t have any say about how the Deaf Community should or should not feel about anything.  I can only make observations on what I see.

There is a level of ambivalence that always seems to exist between me and the community I love and serve. I exist in world where my work is greeted with appreciation and frustration at the same time.

Why? Well. I think of it this way. Imagine that, in order to breathe, you must employ the services of a person who touches the end of your nose-a certified nose toucher.

Now, it may not be that you can’t breathe, but in order to breathe effectively, and specifically at times of stress or when breathing effectively is vital, the services of a professional, certified “nose toucher” is needed (can’t do it for yourself, oh and you have horrible memories of the education system trying to teach you to touch your nose with your elbow, and everyone seems to have a suggestion of installing dubious microchips in your nose, but I digress).

So how would you feel toward the “nose toucher?” You would of course appreciate the “nose toucher” each and every time you took a clear and effective breath. But, you would also resent the fact that you had to depend on this other person for something so basic as breathing, that the world as it is forces this reality.

You would surely be angry each time someone talked to the “nose toucher” instead of you, as if you were unable to think instead of breathe.

Out of necessity you spend time with your “nose toucher,” and so you may develop “a relationship,”  sometimes beyond the realm of “nose touching,” maybe even a friendship.  But, that can lead to problems of its own. A blurry line between friend and professional can be dangerous.

Of course sometimes you will be assigned a “nose toucher” that you just do not like.  That’s a whole new level of frustration.

In the end no matter how much you appreciate the work of the professional, certified, “nose toucher” and even despite perhaps liking some of the “nose touchers,” they are people you MUST be with, not people you choose to be with. Every time they do their job you are grateful for it and also reminded of the fact that you are dependent on them. Appreciation and frustration. Sometimes you just want to go into the bathroom all alone and just choke. Sometimes you would rather just choke.

This is the way I imagine it, but I may be way off. Even if I am exactly accurate in my observations, people who are Deaf have every right to this feeling of ambivalence and it does not diminish the importance of what I do or my love of doing it. For me, recognizing it just keeps my head in the right place so I can do it my job effectively.

Who am I in relation to the Deaf Community? I am as helpful as I can be, as often as I can be. Nothing more nothing less.